When it comes to the future of transportation, there is no shortage of intriguing and possibly crazy vehicle concepts. By 2100, commuters could be zipping around in passenger pods that fly through vacuum sealed tubes at 700 mph, soaring through the skies in autonomous personal rotorcraft that look like quadcopter drones, blasting off in rockets that fly from city to city, or even boarding commercial jetliners to fly more than five times the speed of sound.
But as far as wild transportation ideas go, Akka Technologies' flying train might take the cake.
The concept aims to make air travel as easy as stepping onto the subway. The idea is that you head to your local train station when it's time to fly to another city and a tube-shaped passenger train takes you straight to the airport. The pod then rolls onto the runway, where it is affixed to a pair of wings with a cockpit, and the craft takes off to fly to your destination. Upon landing, the train/fuselage detaches from the wings and rolls out of the airport to local train stations to drop you at a convenient location.
“After cars go electric and autonomous, the next big disruption will be in airplanes,” Akka CEO Maurice Ricci during an interview in Paris.
Akka works with companies like Airbus, Renault, and Dassault in Europe to offer technology solutions for advanced transportation services such as autonomous cars and efficient flight. The Paris-based company recently pitched the Link & Fly concept to Boeing as it seeks to expand its customers in the United States, and Ricci also indicated that the idea has received interest from transportation companies in Asia.
One roadblock for the flying train is a security screening process that wouldn't require the TSA to set up shop at your local train station. Akka suggests using retinal scanning after passengers board the train en route to the airport.
The Link & Fly aircraft is billed as a 162-seat plane with an option for cargo delivery with a maximum payload of 21,000 kg. With engines mounted on a large delta-shaped wing, the craft is envisioned with a range of 2,200 km, a cruise speed of Mach 0.78, and a maximum cruise altitude of 39,800 ft. Akka also hopes to develop an extended range model and drone option for cargo.
The concept is ambitious to say the least, as it would not only require a completely new train/fuselage and associated set of wings to be manufactured, but also major infrastructure upgrades to roll the train straight from the station to the runway. The flying train isn't something we'll see anytime soon, but it's a unique approach to air travel—and it's hard to deny the appeal of boarding the train near your home and stepping off the same vehicle outside your hotel thousands of miles away.